Covering The States

Overseas designs - by Andrew Ellard

29 November, 2002

Ah, those two nations divided, as Oscar Wilde once said, by a common language. But that goes for images as well as words, as I discovered when talking to Paul Augustine, Video Marketing Manager for BBC Worldwide Americas, who is in charge of the Red Dwarf DVDs Stateside.

Changes to the cover art reflect the difference between the UK and USA markets, but that doesn't mean the team haven't stayed close to the heart of Red Dwarf: "We wanted the US covers to show off the fun, quirky humour of the program, and felt that this will help the show to stand out in a video store on a crowded Sci-Fi shelf, where other Sci-Fi packaging is more serious. One of the things we love about the program is that, while the product itself is of a very high quality, it has a tongue-in-cheek irreverence and isn't afraid to laugh at itself. We wanted the package to reflect that, so we tried to select images which were funny and make them a little more prominent on the package front."

Covering The States

As can be seen by the images above, the final result is actually very similar to the UK designs. The key difference is how much emphasis is placed on the characters, which speaks volumes about what a US audience remember and react to best from a TV show.

"Red Dwarf has a rabid fan base in the States and what we like to refer to as a 'cult' following. It frequently pops up on top-ten lists of shows which fans want released on DVD, and, in fact, last season a character on Buffy the Vampire Slayer complained on the show that Red Dwarf was not available on DVD! So we are extremely excited about the US DVD release."

"At BBC Video in the US, we pride ourselves on the high quality of our DVDs, the amount of value added bonus material we are able to put on our discs and the unique, interesting menu design. So we followed with eager interest the design process of the Red Dwarf DVDs in the UK both through our contacts at BBC in London and the updates on reddwarf.com. When we finally got our copies of Red Dwarf I, we were completely thrilled. The menus are absolutely first rate and there is so much added value, it took the better part of a day to get through it all!"

Of course, that 'common language' thing eventually rears its confused head. "The 12-page collector's booklet gives such great insight into the creative process behind the series, that as soon as we saw it we knew it needed to be included with the US release - after we fixed all those quirky things you do with spelling in the UK!"

Content-wise, the discs for Series I and Series II will be identical to the UK editions in all but one respect: "There is a terrific featurette on the UK disc which, unfortunately, had to be cut from the US release because the music behind it couldn't be cleared by the publisher for release in the US. It's a shame, but that happens from time to time with programs that are released in both countries. We have tried to make up for it by adding our own extra added value item unique to the US release in the form of two sets of exclusive trading cards which will be available only in the DVD. Each series has its own set of four cards featuring images from the respective series, and we are hoping that fans in the US will enjoy the trading cards as much as fans in the UK will enjoy the extra video feature."

Finally, will the release pattern for 2002-3 be the same for the next six series? "Yes. The plan is to release two series each February until all eight are released, so you Brits will get a head start each year. This seems to work out the best with the production schedule here and the rest of our US release slate."

For a full list of what will be available on the Series II DVD, due out in February on both sides of the pond - not to mention in Australasia - keep an optical receptor on reddwarf.co.uk. We'll also have the UK cover art images, and news on the first sparking ideas for Series III and IV!

More DVD Details will follow soon...

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